Jill is a successful Global Marketing Director with over twenty years of experience. She moved to Switzerland in 2009 as a local hire when she received a good offer from a large pharma company. As a US citizen and single professional woman integrating in Switzerland (a country largely dominated by males earning the main income while females keep the household and children in perfect shape) she initially had a hard time adjusting. After two years she finally felt settled and at home. Jill loves her work and next to a bit of exercise and travelling she does not take a lot of time off. She is successful and strong in a male environment. She is accepted because of her international background, experience and the high quality and fast output.
Then one day early in 2014 the company she works for had to downsize. Foreigners go first. Why is that? There is no logic in the employment law requiring certain criteria to be met when downsizing is on the agenda. Contrary to many European countries Swiss employment contract and employment law is closer to the US and UK case law. It is actually very easy to terminate an employee.
What most foreigners moving to Switzerland underestimate though, is that their work and residence permit status is closely linked to their employment. Unlike EU citizens (which still have the benefit of the blialteral agreement with the EU) a US , Canadian, Indian or Australian is considered a “third country” citizen. (Not to be confused with third world country). The immigration status therefore depends on having employment. The fact that you are eligible for unemployment benefits is not giving the authorities grounds to extend your work and residence permit.
Last month I had two clients who were made redundant or are about to be terminated. Often not even the HR department understands the implications of the termination. I offer advice and support to clients in such cases. I am not going to blurt out what I told Jill but we will update you if it works out. In a worst-case scenario she only has 60 days to move out of Switzerland (with an L-Permit it is only 15 days).
Here are three tips what you can do now to avoid such a situation:
1) If you are made redundant speak to HR about your personal situation. It might be possible to extend your termination period.
2) Keep in contact with recruiting companies and headhunters in your field.
3) Strengthen your network in your industry as most jobs are given to personal connections these days.
4) Get married to a Swiss person or EU citizen.
5) If you are transferred by a company, negotiate a repatriation clause in case of redundancy.
6) Before you become desperate, make an appointment with us.